Bob Massie's Response to the Create the Vote Questionnaire

1. The Role of Arts, Culture, and Creativity

What role do arts, culture, and creativity play in your life, your family, your community? What impact does it have?

I believe in the importance of creative exploration and expression. My parents were writers and our family friends included dancers, actors, painters, sculptors, poets, photographers, and many other kinds of artists. I am fortunate to live in Somerville, where our Arts Council enlivens the community through almost weekly events including Art Beat, Open Studios, Porch Fest, Honk festivals, open air theater, movies in the park, and more.

I share the perspective of Lyndon Johnson who once said:



Creativity, arts and culture determine who we are. They help us discover, celebrate, strengthen, and perpetuate our values. They challenge our assumptions and push us to reflect and to improve. As a result, they stand at the center of our communities and are essential to our quality of life, our children’s education, and our creative and innovative businesses. Ultimately, the arts inspire us to embrace life at its fullest.

I intend to elevate the priority of arts and culture in state government and bring art and artists to the table for all our endeavors. My administration will champion the role of working artists, creative workers, and the non- profit arts community as essential to a thriving economy. I want Massachusetts to shine as the leading example among all 50 states of what effective and visionary commitment to the arts looks like.

Creativity is a core asset of the people of Massachusetts that should not be neglected, and as Governor I will work see that the Arts are adequately supported across the state for the benefit of all residents of the Commonwealth.

2. Addressing Commonwealth-wide Issues

Massachusetts faces many economic and social issues – job creation, public safety, education.

What are your priority issues? What role can the creative community play in addressing these challenges?

Yes, I have priorities:

1. Wealth equality, democracy and social justice

2. Housing and Transportation

3. Renewable energy/climate change

4. Education

5. Health care accessibility, cost and quality of care

But in listing my top priorities, one important point should not be overlooked: I view all of these priorities as tightly interconnected. We cannot choose to address social justice and ignore education or address transportation but ignore wealth inequality. For example, it will take a good deal of creativity, persistence, and empathy to successfully address health care. Education and the arts have critical roles to play and helping foster productive discussions and positive outcomes. There will be a great need for effective messaging to overpower the misleading corporate misinformation that contributes to a lack of shared vision about these priorities in our Commonwealth. The arts can be a great ally in this effort.

There is a growing body of data and science that’s telling us that loneliness is more prevalent than we thought. Former U.S. surgeon general Vivek Murthy even compared the mortality effect associated with loneliness to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

What do you think the creative community can do to address social isolation?

Helping the Arts become more pervasive in our communities can help us better understand one another, pull us out of our homes and apartments to share and appreciate art, which ultimately helps us create a stronger sense of community, removing barriers that isolate us from one another, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Here are four examples worth noting:

1. Somerville - The city sponsors or facilitates multiple creative public events that entice people out into the public realm and into potential conversation and community.

2. Boston - The Play Me I’m Yours Street Piano project sponsored by the Celebrity Series of Boston in 2016 demonstrated how art can draw people in, creating an instant sense of community.

3. Salem - The Punto Urban Art Museum improved the streetscape and created a stronger sense of community. Instead of random graffiti, the community has world class art to brighten the neighborhood. This urban art museum was created through a social justice art program led by North Shore CDC, a community development non-profit founded in the neighborhood in 1978. “The Museum was created to break down the invisible, but undeniable socio-economic barrier between the Point Neighborhood and the rest of Salem and the North Shore.”

4. Clinton NY - Another example is the Art Rocks program, which showcases the painting of hand-crafted rockers, mini rockers and tables, each featuring original artwork painted by a local artist, displayed from June to August both inside and outside of businesses and merchants. The art produced is then auctioned off to raise funds for Arts programs. This raises art visibility, draws the entire community in, increases retail foot traffic and raises money.

3. Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

Research has shown that arts education increases achievement across all academic disciplines, enhances student engagement, and fosters development of critical thinking and learning skills.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is currently redesigning school and district report cards to include measures for arts education participation. In addition, DESE is updating arts curriculum frameworks for the first time since 1999.

What will you do to increase access and participation in arts education for youth both in school and out of schools?

The arts are the expression of our greater humanity and should permeate our schools and communities. However, we have been shortchanging arts in our public schools for decades. For nearly 20 years the state has failed to meet its commitment to the Foundation Budget, in terms of setting Chapter 70 aid levels to local school districts. An unfortunate result of that fact is that arts, languages and other critically important elements have often had their funding reduced or programs eliminated entirely. Art teachers and others in our public schools often find it necessary to purchase classroom supplies out of their own salaries, which is unfair to both teachers and students. We can do better.

Arts education is even more critical for our youth today and more critical to society as a whole, when the need for creative problem-solving, collaboration, confidence-building, cultural awareness and empathy could not be greater.

We need to adequately fund the Foundation Budget formula and then fully fund that commitment to enable school arts programs to be restored and adequately funded going forward.

As Governor, I will support the arts, recognizing that they are a critical element of our education system. The focus on STEM education overlooks the role of creativity and the humanities in educating the next generation. We advocate for the STEM to STEAM effort to keep the focus and priority on the arts and humanities.

Promote arts education for all

Incorporate arts education indicators in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Expand arts education opportunities for youth, fund in- and out-of-school arts programs

Apply a race and social justice analysis of arts spending to:

Ensure a broad, inclusive, and equitable distribution of resources to artists and institutions

Increase racial and ethnic participation, inclusion, and representation in arts and cultural institutions


4. The Administration’s Support and Role in the Creative Community

Public investment in the arts strengthens local economies, attracts additional investment, and ensures resources serve the public interest. For the past three years, the Legislature has level funded the Mass Cultural Council, investing $14 million in organizational support for the creative community. In 1988, the Mass Cultural Council gave out more than $27 million in grants, nearly twice what we do now.

At what level would you fund the Mass Cultural Council?

As Governor I will work to restore 1988 levels of funding, adjusted upward for inflation to the Mass Cultural Council. The state has squeezed just about every budget line over the last 20 years to accommodate increases in health care costs and limited efforts to catch up on deferred infrastructure. But we have done so at the expense of funding education, the arts, public transportation, and more. As Governor, I will:

Support development and expansion of state and municipal arts initiatives and funding

Maintain and build cultural spaces through funding for the Cultural Facilities Fund and Community Preservation Act

Support creative place making initiatives including the Massachusetts Public Art Program (MPAP) bill

Introduce a dedicated funding source for the state arts budget, and advocate for its approval


Created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2007, the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund has granted $110 million in matching grants to help restore the Commonwealth’s most treasured historical and cultural landmarks, and fund visionary capital projects that revitalize our communities. As the Cultural Facilities Fund comes up for reauthorization in 2019, there’s interest to increase the Fund to $75 million for five years, allowing the yearly allocations to increase from $10 million to $15 million and meet the increasing demands of projects.

At what level do you suggest the Commonwealth fund this program?

The $10 million in annual funding in 2007, if we were to level fund the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, we would need to commit nearly $13 million per year today. At the current level of the state and national economy, we should have the capacity to raise the annual level of funding to account for inflation to at least $13 million, and preferably to $15 million.


 5. The Creative Economy

Innovation is one of the major drivers of Massachusetts’ economy.

As Governor, how would you work with creative entrepreneurs, artists, and cultural organizations as part of an economic development strategy?

Yes. The Massachusetts economy has gone through many transformations and major changes in energy, health care, transportation and housing constitutea significant set of adjustments. Creative entrepreneurs, artists, and cultural organizations can play a substantial role in helping people adjust to these changes. State-led actions in each of these sectors of our economy should include funding provisions so that artists and innovators can all make contributions. As governor, I will partner with the arts community to develop programs that use art to transform people and communities:

Integrate art and design into public spaces

Support professional development for artists

A major focus of my administration would be to advance provisions that make the economy work more fairly for working people, gig workers, part time workers and others which would include artists and creative workers. This would include portable benefits, and single payer healthcare.

6. Art and Public Health

Expressive art therapy is a proven and effective treatment to improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions, help cope with traumatic experiences, decrease depression and anxiety, and aid addiction recovery.

How would you ensure veterans, young people in the juvenile justice system, the elderly, and those suffering from addiction are able to access art and creative therapies?

As governor, I will:

Create and fund existing arts programs for youth at risk of violence, the elderly to find community, and arts gatherings as a way to increase neighborhood vitality and safety

Explore using new arts-related technologies such as expressive digital imagery tools ( that have been successfully integrated into some addiction treatment routines and in treating veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


Members of MASSCreative's Leadership Council met with Bob Massie in January to share their perspectives on the creative sector click here to learn more.

Do you like this page?

Community Impact

The Drama Studio is one of a handful of youth theatres in the United States that offers quality, range, and depth in its acting training programs. For Springfield-area youth, the Studio's conservatory program offers an unusual opportunity for training that prepares its graduates (all of whom are college bound) to...